The state legislature has approved a bill that could significantly increase renewable energy by expanding net metering to schools, hospitals and nonprofit organizations, including churches.
Rep. Deb Ruggiero, who represents Jamestown and Middletown, co-sponsored the bill in the House.
Net metering allows the owners of green energy to receive credit for the power they feed into the electric grid. Remote net metering is an arrangement that allows kilowatt-hours generated from one site to be credited toward energy consumption at a different site.
Until last year, state law allowed only municipalities to participate in remote net metering. In 2016, lawmakers expanded the program to “community remote net metering,” which included affordable housing developments and residential partnerships that split the credits.
This measure, which now heads to the governor, encourages Rhode Islanders to invest in the development of renewable energy while opening access to facilities that are not in the best location for wind or solar. These investments allow more institutions to reduce their energy costs while helping Rhode Island meet its goals for clean energy by using less power from fossil fuels.
The measure is consistent with the state’s energy plan, which was created to shift Rhode Island away from carbon power produced out of state to cleaner, locally produced alternatives. The energy plan estimates the status quo could cost Rhode Island between $6.6 billion and $15.4 billion more in fuel costs compared to alternative energy by 2035.
According to the sponsors, the plan also will fuel job growth and expand the green economy in Rhode Island by encouraging more construction.